Life Care Consulting by Barbara Hance - Financial and Personal Management Service for the Elderly, Frail and the Busy
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The Older the Better

There was a time when people in their 60s and beyond wouldn’t think of rejoining the workforce. But today, things are different. Many retirees are looking for full and part time jobs – many employers are looking to hire them.

Historically, many folks stopped working when they hit their late 50s or 60s because the skills they possessed were no longer appropriate. Some jobs were eliminated and others were replaced by advanced technology; as a result, some people were forced to retire.

Now, however, many retirees want to get back to work. Some need to supplement their retirement income, because Social Security benefits have not kept pace with cost-of-living increases. Others simply want to keep busy. But regardless of the reasons, when older people rejoin the workforce, everyone reaps the benefits.

Kevin Galvin, owner of Colonial Handyman, a residential and commercial repair company in West Hartford, says that five of his full-time staff of 10 were hired through West Hartford’s Senior Job Bank. Richard Briggs, president of Buell Securities Corp. in Wethersfield, has also hired secretaries and receptionists through Senior Job Bank.

In recent years, the role of employer pensions, earnings and asset income has become a priority in the income picture for older Americans. Social Security income is barely adequate for a majority of older people; and with the reforms now being discussed, there could be significant changes in that source of income.

Today, income for the retirement years typically comes from three sources: Social Security, employer pensions and savings. Earnings from employment, however, continue to play an important role in the finances of older people. Those with earnings are most likely to be in the highest 20 percent of income distribution.

The bottom line is this: older people are looking for full-or-part-time jobs to supplement their other sources of income. They also seek activities to which to devote their energy. Not surprising, studies show that older people who rejoin the workforce are more likely to enjoy healthier, happier and longer lives.

Whatever the reason, the tables are beginning to turn. It’s not unusual to find retraining and job opportunities for older Americans. The number of seniors looking for jobs is growing, and employers want to hire them. In some cases, companies find it makes good business sense to hire people over 65 because they require fewer employee benefits, such as medical insurance coverage.

Patricia Newton is Executive Director of the Senior Job Bank. The non-profit organization serves the Greater Hartford area, and Newton places people over 55 (the average age is 63) in various jobs throughout the area.

Retraining employees age 55 or older can be very cost-effective. These people may still be working in 10 – 15 years, and Newton believes employers should make the investment. She says this would also increase people’s spending power in the community, and the result would be a boom to the local economy.

Newton also says that frequently older people who are looking for jobs want to do something related to what they have done previously. For example, a retired teacher wanted to work with children, and was referred to a local toy store that needed sales help. Another retiree with an interest in history is now working in a bookstore at a state park.

In 1996, the Senior Job Bank places a total of 1,130 men and women in part-time jobs. Of that number, 190 were in businesses such as law and accounting offices and retail sales establishments. An additional 940 were at-home placements that included child-care positions and home health aides.

Kevin Galvin, Vice President of the Greater Hartford Chamber Commerce, has some advice for business owners considering hiring older workers:

“Older people will jump-start your business,” he says, “It’s that simple.”

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